Home re-creation of an elegant Polish Chicken Liver Lunch at Ognisko, London

“Plaki are pancakes of grated potato and can be had with a variety of toppings. God and the medical profession forgive me but I went for the spiced livers. This proved to be one of the better decisions I’ve ever made as cushions of chicken liver arrived, pink at heart, mounded on the pancake base, positively draped in the kind of pan-realised sauce that so ennobles the devilled kidney”

Tim Hayward, Financial Times Magazine, 2 April 2016

Tim Hayward was writing about the chicken liver and sour cherry offering at the Polish restaurant, Ognisko – a favourite haunt of mine as it’s convenient for the Victoria and Albert Museum. I’ve written before about the sublime pork crackling they serve there.

Hayward’s piece goes on to point out that it’s not made clear on the menu whether it’s intended as a starter or a main, and in truth it would be very good as either, but since quite a few people don’t eat chicken livers it’s probably better to serve it as an indulgent lunch for two.

It’s closed currently because of the lockdowns, but if you want to recreate something approximating this dish then this is what to do.

Ognisko serves the chicken livers on plaki – effectively a type of rösti (which can buy ready-made: easy – or make: tricky). If you don’t have time for that or it seems a waste – the ready-made rösti would be enough for at least six – simply toast or fry some good quality granary bread.

Recipe for an indulgent Polish dish of chicken livers 

Serves 2 for lunch and 4 as a starter

Ingredients

  • 225g/8 oz chicken livers – take away any bits of white and chop roughly
  • 1 piece of buttered granary toast
  • 2 tbsps double cream
  • 2 heaped dessert spoons of crème fraîche
  • 30g/¼ cup chopped pecans – dry fried
  • 60ml/¼ cup marsala
  • 4 sage leaves
  • Half a chicken stock cube/½ tsp chicken stock powder dissolved in an egg cup of boiled water
  • Indonesian long pepper
  • 30g/¼ cup dried sour cherries
  • 1 banana shallot, peeled and chopped fine
  • Butter for frying – couple of walnuts
  • 1 tsp creamed horseradish sauce – or more if you like it hot

Method

  1. As far ahead as you can soak the cherries in the marsala
  2. Fry the shallot in some butter until soft
  3. Meanwhile make the toast, butter it and cut it in half
  4. Add the livers to the shallot and some generous grinds of pepper and cook until until still pink
  5. Add the dissolved stock and the marsala with the cherries
  6. Take off the heat, stir in the double cream
  7. Put half a piece of toast on each plate, pour over the creamy chicken liver mixture, top with a generous dollop of crème fraîche, sprinkle over the pecans and snipped sage leaves and serve.

Quotes about Ognisko


“There’s a gentleness to Ognisko, despite the chilli vodka that strips all feeling from your palate and turns your eyeballs pedigree Pekinese. Beautifully dressed old chaps tuck into platters of hand-chopped steak tartare, while ladies d’un certain age, all coiffed and truc’d into steely perfection, demolish vast lamb shashliks. I can image Ognisko as the haunt of Barbara Pym heroines, drooping into their roast hake with spelt and wild mushrooms every bit as elegantly as the dried roses that cascade down the all-white walls.”

Marina O’Loughlin, The Guardian, August 2015


“Restaurants are best avoided on February 14. Taking love to town and showing it off in Piccadilly is asking for trouble. I have friends, however, who swear by the Polish Club restaurant Ognisko in London’s South Kensington, where high camp, rose petals and vodka immersion reign.”

Susie Boyt, The Financial Times, February 2021

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